SeaArk Boats, a long-time manufacturer of aluminum recreational boats, had a reputation for quality products among hunters and fishers from the marshlands of Louisiana to remote villages of Alaska.
But the company, a subsidiary of commercial boat maker SeaArk Marine in Monticello, Arkansas, had never made a profit.
Then came September 11, 2001. Due to the economic downturn, business was far from demanded and the phone stopped ringing. As a result, the owners faced the possibility of closing the business. Instead, they sold the SeaArk Boats unit to family member, Robin McClendon.
Robin took charge, aggressively cutting out unprofitable lines and focusing on their market niche in rough-duty recreational boats. But she needed working capital to retool operations and keep production running during colder months when orders and cash flow were slow. This is where ECD became part of the picture.
“ECD was more willing than traditional lenders to work with us,” recalled Robin. “SeaArk Boats didn’t have the kind of track record traditional lenders look for. But working with ECD was a great experience. Our loan officer had a lot of knowledge in production and understood our process.”
For SeaArk Boats, ECD/HOPE financing kept the company afloat, allowed them to revise their business strategy, and helped them retain employees.
“It allowed us to get back in the ball game . . . now we’re heading in the other direction,” said Robin. “This year, we worked straight through Christmas. There are 30 jobs, at least, that would not be here had we shut down. And that was our only other choice.”